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Food products, gastronomy and religious tourism: The resilience of food landscapes


Religious tourism has always been a sector of significant importance in the field of cultural tourism. Religious tourism is located both in urban areas and in rural areas. In rural areas in the past it did not represent a factor of great impact on the local economy as most of the population lived in rural areas. With the advent of modern society and with the phenomena of agricultural and rural exodus, linked to the increase in income in developed societies, religious tourism becomes a critical success factor for many rural areas as a historical heritage. This aspect is of significant importance if we consider that it can represent a real engine of development especially for rural areas, the subject of various policies activated at national and regional level within specific European programs aimed at improving territorial cohesion and increase social and economic development. The main actors of religious tourism in rural areas are the Sanctuaries, the typical agri-food products and next to these to have a flourishing tourist activity, there must be all the comforts for the visitor (road infrastructures, hotels, etc.). The itineraries of faith, then, could represent a possible response to these development needs since, as established by the Council of Europe, they constitute a useful tool for increasing the competitiveness and development of the areas crossed, also by strengthening the identity. In Sicily, an attempt in this sense can be identified in the actions implemented by the Region through the establishment of the Santa Rosalia path, a 185 km path crossing the Parco dei Monti Sicani, reserves and natural areas of the 14 municipalities that shows a reality of landscapes, nature, culture, traditions, art and flavors typical of the Sicilian hinterland. This work aims to investigate whether the path of Santa Rosalia can represent a critical success factor for the area. The results of the study highlight that the highly fragmented territorial policies, according to the different bodies responsible for interventions in the landscape, do not currently constitute the constitution of a real religious and agri-food tourist package.